Damien Marquez, right, speaks with his attorney Todd Bullion Jan. 29 following sentencing in the First Judicial District County in Los Alamos. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Damien Marquez was sentenced Jan. 29 by First Judicial District Judge Jason Lidyard in connection with the May 2018 beating of a local man outside the Veterans of Foreign War Post on Deacon Street, which left the victim with serious facial injuries requiring surgery at an Albuquerque hospital.
Marquez earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with great bodily harm.
Los Alamos Police Department officers responded at 2:22 a.m. to Los Alamos Medical Center where they found the victim who had been transported there by friends. Court documents noted that the victim had multiple visible injuries to his face, was still bleeding from his mouth and was “very intoxicated”. He had two bruised eyes, a broken jaw, a cut above his eye and a cut on his lower lip, the LAPD incident report stated. A female witness identified Marquez as the person who had hit the victim.
The female witness told police she was giving the two men a ride home from the VFW Post when they began fighting in the car, that Marquez was in the front seat and had started punching the victim who was in the back seat. She said she drove them back to the VFW parking lot to get help from friends and that they fought there.
Following the incident, the VFW confirmed that Marquez was at the Post earlier in the evening as the guest of a member and that bar staff had discontinued serving him, giving him only water. He was reportedly asked to leave the building and escorted outside to make sure he was not driving and was assisted into the female witness’s car.
A request for an arrest warrant filed by LAPD Det. Ryan Wolking indicated that Marquez admitted to punching the victim in the face when he thought the victim was pinning his arm to the ground. The female witness told Wolking that Marquez open the door of the car and dragged the victim out onto the ground. Marquez told Wolking he opened the door but denied dragging the victim out.
Wolking’s report states that Marquez’s account of the incident was similar to that of the female witness but he told Wolking that he and the victim were arguing in the car and when they returned to the VFW parking lot, a “shoving match” ensued, they wrestled, and Marquez said he punched the victim in the face when he thought the victim was pinning his arm to the ground. Wolking noted that the female witness claimed Marquez opened the victim’s door and dragged him out on to the ground. Marquez told Wolking he opened the door but denied dragging the victim out of the car.
The female witness also told Wolking that Marquez was clearly the aggressor during the incident and that the even resembled an act of aggression by Marquez rather than a drunken fight between two willing participants.
At the Jan. 29 hearing, as part of a plea agreement, the prosecution agreed not to speak and Judge Lidyard heard from the victim, and his mother, as well as relatives and co-workers of Marquez. Several letters had also been submitted in advance to the Court. Marquez had earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with great bodily harm.
The victim in the case told Judge Lidyard that the May 2018 incident had changed his life physically, mentally and emotionally. He described his injuries and treatment, how he had lost weight, had 14 screws and three plates placed in his jaw and is still experiencing numbness in his face. He said his jaw hurts all the time.
The victim said the incident was not a fight and that he was attacked from behind. He said he didn’t know Marquez and that the attack was unprovoked. He said he couldn’t work for a long time after the incident and that he suffers from anxiety, depression and post- traumatic stress disorder. He told the Court that Marquez should be held accountable and that Marquez had served absolutely no jail time. Judge Lidyard asked to see the photos of the victim’s injuries.
The victim’s mother also addressed the Court describing the victim’s condition at the hospital. She said his jaw was broken in three places and that his jaw bone was actually protruding into his mouth. She said the victim had been in surgery for 7 ½ hours and that his jaw was wired shut for six weeks.
Marquez’s family members and co-workers asked the Court not to give Marquez prison time and spoke of his work ethic and character. His father said Marquez and the victim were “mutual combatants” and that there was culpability on both sides.
Marquez’s attorney Todd Bullion told the Court that Marquez does not have a drug problem and that he had been in the bar at the VFW Post and had too much to drink. He said there was an argument about a girl that became physical and that the fight escalated. He said Marquez had pleaded straight up on the charge and taken responsibility for the fight.
“He is not someone who takes joy in hurting someone,” Bullion said.
Bullion noted that the most punitive sentence for the charge is three years to be served at 85 percent and that most lenient would be a suspended sentence with probation and a conditional discharge.
Marquez told the Court that he is remorseful for what he did and that he is not the person that has been presented to the Court. He said he has taken this lesson and is working to be the best person he can be.
Judge Lidyard pointed out to Marquez that people talked about how great of a person he is, the consideration he gives to others and the love that he provides.
“The complexity of human beings is that we are capable of doing all those kind things at some moments yet at other moments we do the complete opposite. Violence against others in our society is something that we can not accept as a civilization. The violence here was extreme. In everything that I could elicit from the affidavit for the arrest warrant, it was unprovoked, face to face and hands on with your own hands. Intoxication is simply no excuse. Even in our deepest stages of intoxication, our inherent morals guide us,” he said. “The violence that you exhibited here, you could feel it with your own hands while you were doing it. You could feel what you were inflicting and nothing about your morals stopped it. While one moment may not define who you are, it is one moment we can not accept as a society and there is a need for punishment in our society when an individual acts with this kind of violence, unprovoked.”
Judge Lidyard sentenced Marquez to 365 days to be served in the Los Alamos County Detention Center without good time. He sentenced him to two years of supervised probation thereafter, as well as intervention counseling and restitution in full for any expenses (the victim) had to incur in treating himself. Marquez will also have to participate in a anger management program and when restitution is paid in full, will be allowed to go to unsupervised probation.